The university's first international music tour in 28 years will not be the last.
In May, the St. Ambrose Chamber Singers spent seven days in Italy and Austria, touring and performing in some of the most historic cathedrals and venues in Milan, Venice and Vienna.
And they excelled.
"The students were terrific representatives of St. Ambrose. They performed with class and professionalism," said Nathan Windt, DMA, associate professor and director of choral activities. "They were true Ambrosians."
Chamber Singers representing a variety of academic majors started preparing for the tour in August 2016. The concert line-up included five ancient hymns re-scored by Music Department Chair William Campbell, PhD. Each song originally was written by Saint Ambrose of Milan, the university's patron saint.
"We specifically went to Milan to bring the Ambrose hymns back to the city in which they were originally conceived in the fourth century," Campbell said.
Windt said it was an experience that heightened the students' understanding of Saint Ambrose the man. "To be in Milan and sing those hymn settings that were attributed to Ambrose was something significant," he said.
Chamber Singers also performed works by Mozart in Vienna and visited sites in Salzburg where the famed composer's early work was conceived. They toured the cathedral where Mozart's Requiem was performed during his funeral Mass.
Chamber Singer Parker Haley '17 said the tour was a memorable way to end his undergraduate career. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education in May.
"It is surreal to say I performed in Italy and Austria," Haley said. "It is definitely something I will remember. Performing overseas, and in places where not a lot of people get to perform, was educational, and that experience is something most people won't get to do."
Windt said some of the venues were cathedrals teeming with tourists, "but we had audiences that really didn't leave their seats from the first song to the last, and at all three venues the students were given standing ovations. It speaks to how well our students performed."
The international tour was a high-impact educational experience, one the Music Department wants to offer every three to four years.
"This is just the beginning," Windt said. "I am really proud of the students. Musically, they were exceptional. They were a credit to our university and future music students. I am looking forward to the next tour."